Back from UKland Vacation

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Going Code3 with the Scottish Ambulance Service

So I’ve been MIA for a bit, that’s because I took a good three weeks off and went on vacation 😀  I’ve been meaning to write a post before I left, but I never found the time.  In fact, I still haven’t written that post I have in mind.  It will eventually pop up sometime this month though 🙂

For vacation, I went to the UK, spending five days in London, ten days in Scotland, two days on a surprise mystery trip and another two days stuck in commute.  During my stay, I was lucky enough to learn a bit more about the EMS system in London and Scotland.  In London, I did an orientation in dispatch as well as the ambulance station (yes, even on vacation I couldn’t get away from paramedicine 😛 ).  Whereas in Scotland, I rode third with two paramedics in Inverness for a 12hr shift.  It was a real neat experience seeing the similarities and differences between the UK and BC EMS services.  At the end of the day though, the job is essentially the same if you minus the differences in technology, ambulance paint jobs and designs, protocols, and layered responses.

Highlights/Interesting Facts:

  • Favourite part of UK ambulances: No lifting of stretchers since they have ramps instead!
  • Best policy:  No lifting.  Stretchers have either leg pumps or are hydraulic.
  • Paramedics hike up a new coolness factor by being on motorcycles.
  • Nice ambulance interior design with loads of work space and natural lighting.
  • 85% of the calls at the station in Inverness that day I rode third were chest pain calls (heart attacks is the number one killer in Scotland due to diet and lack of exercise).
  • Scottish jail tour via ambulance?  Check.
  • Use of community paramedics and nurses for non-emergency calls = freeing up/reducing ambulance crews for actual emergencies and preventing backlog in hospitals.
  • Head dispatch officer tried to kidnap me for the day when I said I had to go after spending 8hrs there.
  • In his excitement, a Scottish paramedic took off his XXL uniform for me to take home as a souvenir (which is an awesome souvenir even though I wear small and look absolutely retarded in XXL). 
  • Learned a new paramedic protocol in London: In the case of a dirty bomb, put a black mask over your face for protection, run away while stripping your clothes off, stand stark naked and draw a line at 100ft and radio in to dispatch…hmmm sounds like an exciting protocol to practice in front of your coworkers huh?
  • Was up in dispatch and watched as they sent a helicopter to pick up a chest pain patient, then 40 minutes and a jail visit later, I went out via ambulance to the helipad to pick up the patient to take the the hospital.  Chances of witnessing a dispatched call and then actually being involved the same call?  Usually, zero.
  • You think Code3 in BC is fast?  Wait till you go to Scotland.
  • In BC, we have first aid courses for dogs, in Scotland, they have first aid courses for sheep.

I know it’s a bit late, but I hope everybody had a wonderful and safe Christmas and New Years 🙂  As for the sheep comment above, I can’t say it’s completely true, but I sure as hell wouldn’t be surprised if there is.  It’s not a stereotype afterall, sheep are everywhere in Scotland!  

I just want to quickly thank the paramedics and dispatchers in London and Scotland for their time, they were amazing and wonderful people.  If you ever get a chance to check out EMS in another state/province/country, I say definitely do it, because it’s a great eye opener.  Cheers!  

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Different emergency vehicles lined up outside the ambulance station from NHS lunch room.

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Ambulance Motorcycle outside NHS HQ in London

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One of the Scottish Ambulances in Inverness

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Interior view of the Scottish Ambulance

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Waiting at the helipad for the helicopter to come in with the patient

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Helicopter crew and paramedics

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Just heading out from the Scottish jail. You can see the police cruisers and a couple of officers in the background

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Comments
16 Responses to “Back from UKland Vacation”
  1. I hope everything is fine with you!

    A paramedic is the most extensively trained emergency medical technician. He is responsible for all aspects of prehospital medical care. Paramedics perform advanced life support procedures, such as invasive airway management, administration of medications and cardiac monitoring. Training programs offer prospective paramedics an opportunity to develop their life-saving and decision-making skills.

    I wish you the best!

  2. Zelda Zerafa says:

    Interesting post. Where is BC?

    • PocketMedic says:

      BC is the western most province of Canada.

      Sent from iphone

      • Zelda Zerafa says:

        British Columbia, I guess. Malta, Europe here. I enjoy reading your blog. I chose a career in teaching rather than medicine and feel that I should have followed through with medicine.

      • PocketMedic says:

        Yeah british columbia. Oh cool, malta. Funny you should mention teaching because I originally was studying to go into teaching but change my mind with one year left to go, even though I did finish my degree.

        Hmmm were you studying medicine before?

        Sent from iphone

      • Zelda Zerafa says:

        I started it in Secondary school but absolutely hated Chemistry and the teacher didn’t help. After that, I figured I would choose languages for my A-levels because it was a breeze and I needed A-A-A in Biology,Chemistry and Physics A-Level in one sitting to make it into medicine at university. I was only 16 so I chose the easiest, of course. I’m more of a B student 🙂
        Nowadays, though I feel a little tinge of regret. I watch medical/crime programs on Investigation Discovery, Zone Reality and Bio Channel and read about medicine all the time. I’m admin person for Crisis Resolution Malta (a team of psychotherapists and doctors) and ghostwrite medical/psychology articles every month for one member of that team who is a psychiatrist and emergency doctor all-in-one 🙂 AS you can see I have my finger in lots of pies. On top of that, I’m writing an action-based novel. Oh and I used to volunteer with the Red Cross Ambulance here in Malta. So I’ve been inside an ambulance a few times and tended to a few cuts and scratches but that’s about all.
        I’ve never been to Canada but it must be lovely, I’m sure. Would like to come some day. We don’t have snow or wilderness here. Or waterfalls. Or forests. Or cities…

        Look at this cool educational video about CPR made in Britain:

      • PocketMedic says:

        Hmmm for me my only strength in sciences in high school was biology lol. I know what you mean about feeling regret, it was one of the reasons why I decided to try paramedicine even though I wondered if it’d be right for me and there was no way of me knowing until I tried. I figured if it wasn’t for me, then hell at least I know.

        Wow you’ve been involved in many different areas. That’s pretty cool. Do Red Cross in malta mostly provide first aid coverage or more on disaster responses?

        British Columbia is a beautiful place, if you ever get a chance you should come visit. The best time would be in the summer.

      • Zelda Zerafa says:

        Red CRoss Malta provide ambulance service at concerts and events. They are sometimes involved in disaster response and recently lent a hand with evacuees from Libya. However, they do not go to the scene or road accidents or similar. Our fire department does that.

      • PocketMedic says:

        Ahhh I see. Is your paramedic service combined with the fire department or is it separate?

        In BC, St John Ambulance covers most of what it seems the Red Cross in Malta covers. Although we also have Red Cross organization here as well.

      • Zelda Zerafa says:

        We have St John Ambulance here too. I think they share the load though they compete a lot and there’s politics bla bla. The fire dept is separate. We are not well equipped I think. The ambulance often goes with just a nurse in there. Patients have been known to arrive miraculously self-intubated nudge nudge wink wink

  3. A says:

    Wow meesh-o, your trip sounds awesome and I love the details you gave about your experiences with the medic system there!! -a (toronto = ) )

  4. Katie B says:

    Your trip to the UK sounds amazing! They DO seem to have things better figured-out than here in the U.S. at least, (can’t speak for B.C. having never been there). How is it that you were able to do that? Do you know a paramedic who set you up or did you just call them and ask yourself?

    • PocketMedic says:

      Hi Katie,

      Just gave them a call and asked. london has a program for riding third but we werent able to due to christmas/new years time and they’re worried about terrorism etc also they just hired a lot of new paramedics and have students filled on all the ambulances. In edinburgh, it wasnt possible either due to insurance issues amongst other things. Lucked out on Inverness.

      Sent from iphone

  5. Jessie says:

    I am very glad I came across your blog, It is very informative! I am currently living in Golden, BC. Taking my EMR course in Burnaby this month. Getting exited to see where it will take me!

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